The first trip is always the worst!
My husband started traveling for work over 10 years ago. I remember very vividly the day he came home and told me that he had to start traveling for work. Our daughter was 5 years old at the time and I was just about 8 months pregnant with our son. He’s going to leave me… alone.. for a week! WHAT!? But, I’m pregnant! I remember feeling really woozy and absolutely sick to my fat pregnant stomach. He can’t go. How am I going to survive this!? What if something happens.. or if I go into labor? Or our daughter gets hurt? What if I get hurt? The worry and fear suddenly took over.
There wasn’t a whole lot of time for me to even begin to process him leaving. We’ve never even been apart before. NEVER even slept a night away from each other in over 7 years! “I can’t do this” I remember thinking. I just can’t. I’m not strong enough. I NEED HIM! He is my everything!
Leaving my heart at the airport
Bringing him to the airport for the first time is a memory I have forged in my mind and I’m reminded of it every time I drop him off at the airport; even 10 years later. Anway, we drove to the airport early in the morning. Early enough because our daughter still had on her pink nightgown with horses on it. She was so tired and didn’t really understand why Papa was leaving. I didn’t even understand myself. We pulled up to the small drop off area by the front doors of our local airport and he started getting his suitcases out of my car. My heart was beating so fast and it was pushing its way up into my throat!!!
“I can’t do this!”
I started feeling woozy again and began blacking out. My hearing was muffled and the world was just spinning. Even my mind was spinning with all of these horrible scenarios. “The plane is going to crash!” He is going to get mugged or kidnapped or killed!! “What if I go into labor!” “You’ll miss your son’s birth!” I heard my husband laughing and he began reassuring me that everything was going to be fine. I didn’t even realize I was saying it out loud! YIKES! He reached in to hug me and I couldn’t let go. The fear of something happening to him overwhelmed me. It consumed me. I was paralyzed in his arms. He hugged our daughter and kissed us both and told us he loved us and that he would call the moment the plane landed.
His eyes said it all or not enough
I remember looking into his eyes. I know that look! He was nervous and he was scared. Was he having the same thoughts? Was he just as worried as I was? Or was he worried about me being pregnant and home alone with a 5-year-old? Did he think I couldn’t handle it?
He began walking towards the automatic doors rolling his suitcases behind him. The doors opened and he walked into the airport; he gave us one final glance and disappeared from our lives for a week. I walked back to the car, buckled our daughter into her car seat and left my heart at the airport. And drove away.
AND WE’VE GOT PUKE!
On the way home, our daughter was puking all over the car! OF COURSE! She has never ever had the stomach bug in her life! Until now… OF COURSE! So, here I am, alone, without a husband, pregnant with a puking 5 year old who is now spiking a fever! This isn’t happening! I pulled the car over, gave my daughter my jacket to puke in and cried the whole way home. Well.. the rest of the week if I’m going, to be honest. I cried myself to sleep every night, while I was taking care of our sick daughter, 2 dogs, 4 cats and unborn son. It was exhausting. But… I survived.
I’ve learned over the years how I can survive and you can too
How to Survive When Your Spouse Travels For Work
Prep the kids
If your kids are younger, take the time to prep them. Have a long conversation about why Daddy is leaving. Try to make it fun for them and really interactive. Buy a large map and show them where Dad is going and put a pin there with a string to where you live. Or use Google-Maps, like we do. Set-up a countdown calendar chart with how many days he will be gone and let them remove the days every night before bed. Try to stick to their routines as much as possible. Daddy traveling is enough of a change for them. Especially if they’re little. My kids are much older now and are super flexible and understanding. But, when they were little… It was rough. There were many sleepless nights of my kids crying for their Papa. And honestly, I did too.
Make life easier
If you have any appointments or crazy stuff in the calendar, just postpone it. Unless it’s something you absolutely have to do. Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to manage all the after school activities or trying to figure out how to pick up one child while dropping off the other. Just simplify things or plan ahead with friends or family to help with your kids.
You could go one of two ways…
1. Just stay home and don’t overwhelm yourself with all the chaos and just take it day by day.
2. Keep yourself super busy with appointments, errands, after school activities, playdates and whatever else you can jam into your schedule. It does help the time go by faster for sure!!
Of course, I’ve done both options. It just depends on my mood and how long my husband is traveling for or even what Country he is in because of the time differences. When he travels outside the USA – I try to keep things simple. That way we are home when he calls.
Again, try to keep things simple. Make easy dinners that you and the kids love. Our comfort foods are typically breakfast for dinner. We like having eggs, and toast, with lots of fresh fruits. It’s simple and doesn’t take all night to make. A few nights out of the week we even do take-out or pop over to some of our local restaurants. If your kids are little… prep meals before your husband leaves and if you use a slow cooker get that crock-pot out! You could make a large batch of lasagna or even stuffed shells and eat that for a few nights. Our personal favorites are a big ol’ pot of veggie soup or veggie chili. And let’s not forget PIZZA DELIVERY!
Clean the house before he leaves!
I like to have all the laundry done and the house super clean before my husband travels. It’s one less thing I have to worry about. I make sure all the grocery shopping is done as well. I like having my pantry and fridge stocked! Again. One less thing you have to worry about when he’s gone. Make sure you have everything you need from dish soap to cat food. Because he can’t stop at the store on the way home. Trust me! I’ve done that. My husband was out West for some business trip and I texted him asking him to go to the store after work! OYE!
Don’t overwhelm yourself – treat yourself!
Don’t stress out about the house. If it’s messy, let it stay messy. It’s not going to be the end of the world if the toys don’t get put away every night. When my kids were little we use to play “clean-up” games to help keep the messes at bay. But, not gonna lie, there were many nights when my husband was away that the house did not get cleaned. It was just one more thing on my already overflowing stressed out plate and if you cleaned the house before he left, things won’t be that bad. Just try to relax. Treat yourself to a hot bubble bath when the kids go to bed. Read a book, start one of those many DIY projects that you can never get too, call a friend, or hey, maybe just binge watch some show on Netflix. My go-to shows… Lost and Gossip Girl!
Get Some Adult time in
My husband is my person, my number 1. If something happens, I call him first. Doesn’t ever wife!? We’ve been together for over 17 years and it’s really hard when he travels. I get very lonely and crave “adult conversations” You can only talk to the kids or dogs for so long before you start going a little crazy. Sorry – kids. I love you – but, sometimes Mama just needs some adult conversations. So, make plans with a friend or a family member. Go out to lunch when the kids are at school or call a friend and just catch up. Or better yet! Call your babysitter if you have one and go out with the girls! Go to dinner, or a movie, or at the very least grab a cup of tea or coffee. BUT, get that adult time in!
How to survive the emotional side
It’s been 10 years since my husband started traveling and I still cry when I drop him off at the airport, and I typically cry myself to sleep the first couple of nights too. Yes, Lover Boy. It’s true and I even sleep on your side of the bed. Then I end up going into what I like to call “Survival Mode” and I just start surviving. I put my big girl pants on and saddle up. I’ve got this! Right??!
- Try to schedule a time to skype or facetime – a time just for some adult conversations – so you can stay in touch and up-to-date with each other.
- Let the kids have their own special time with him – maybe that’s a phone call before their bedtime. Or have Dad read the bedtime story.
- We send a lot of emails back and forth – especially if he has traveled to a different Country. Now, that our kids are older, they email him as well.
- Sleep in his favorite tee-shirts! I know that sounds silly, but.. when my husband first started traveling I would sleep in his shirts. It helps. I promise. I sometimes still sleep in his shirts. Shhh 🙂
- Stay POSITIVE! Don’t let yourself be consumed with all the gloom and doom thoughts. He will be fine and so will you!
- Spend lots of good quality time with your children. Enjoy your alone time with them. Try to schedule in a couple of extra special things.
- Most of all… ENJOY having that bed all to yourself! It will be hard the first night or two.. but trust me! You will be sleeping straight through the night! Get some zzzz’s Mama – you deserve it!
Believe me. I know how hard this is. I still struggle with it once and awhile. It’s something you will never fully get used too but it does it easier with each trip. You will figure out what routines work for you and how to keep sane while your spouse is gone and when the kids are older, it is a little bit easier because they can help.
I still hate hearing those 7 dreaded words… “Nada, I have to travel this month”
But.. I do have a few good reasons on Why I hate when my husband travels for work.
Good luck. I know you can do this!